50 Years of Spanish and Portuguese at Oxford: Celebration Event - Round-up

On Friday 28th February the Sub-Faculties of Spanish and Portuguese celebrated, in the Taylorian, the 50th anniversary of their creation (originally as a joint Sub-Faculty) in the 1969-70 academic year.

The festivities were introduced by the Chair of the Faculty Board, Almut Suerbaum, and the statutory professors of Spanish and of Portuguese, Jonathan Thacker and Phillip Rothwell, who welcomed the audience of alumni, current students, retired colleagues, current postholders, benefactors, guests from the the Embassies of Spain, Portugal and Brazil, and dignitaries from the two organisations which promote the cultures of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, the Instituto Cervantes and the Camões Institute. The heads of both institutions had travelled to the UK to be present: Luis García Montero, Director of the Cervantes, and Luís Faro Ramos, President of the Camões. 

The afternoon began with a celebration of the past, consisting of reminiscences about the history of the two Sub-Faculties with the Reverend Dr Colin Thompson and Emeritus Professor Tom Earle. Both underlined the exponential growth of interest in the study of Spanish and Portuguese since the early days of the original Sub-Faculty’s creation and the closeness of the relationship between the colleagues who had worked together teaching language and literature.

In the second session, five current postholders outlined the nature of their research in short talks and they were followed by five graduate students and early-career academics associated with the Faculty who presented their most recent work. Topics ranged from illegitimacy in medieval Spanish literature to the 20th-century Latin American Arab poetry and from Catalan verbs to Brazilian screen adaptations of Eça de Queirós, to name but a few. Today’s research is focused on poetry, theatre, prose writing, cinema, museum artefacts and visual culture across an array of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries in three continents.

Throughout the afternoon visitors to the Taylorian were able to view an exhibition of publications by members of the Sub-Faculties as well as posters designed by current graduate students, showcasing their research projects and interests.  The day ended with lively poetry readings by two of the most prominent poets in Spain and Portugal today, the aforementioned Ana Luisa Amaral and Luis García Montero, and a wine reception that enabled students of the past and present to mingle and exchange stories of their times studying in the Sub-Faculties. 

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